Rob Nathan

We speak to Rob Nathan, Marketing Director at events company, Media 10, responsible for turning around the fortunes of the Ideal Home Show in 2010.

What is the history of the Ideal Home Show?

The Ideal Home Show is the biggest consumer event in the UK. Launched in 1908, it has survived recessions, wars and a host of different governments but lost its way under its old owners the Daily Mail Group. Too many changes in format not enough variety or breadth of exhibitors had all contributed to dwindling numbers until in the summer of 2009, after 100 years of ownership, it was put up for sale. This is when Media 10 stepped in.

How did you first become involved with buying the show from DMG?

It was no real secret that the show was up for sale. The details had been circulated around to companies such as ours and there was a lot of talk in the industry as to who would acquire it.

The beauty of Media 10 is that we work very quickly and felt confident we could do the deal. Was the acquisition easy?

No acquisition takes place without some degree of negotiation, anxiety and stress but the overall decision to acquire the event was a very simple one. We had the opportunity to own one of the oldest, most iconic events in the country and saw this as a great opportunity for Media 10.

What is your background in the events industry?

I have been working in events since 1998. I started by selling showguides at events and landed up with a month’s contract at BBC Haymarket in the marketing department…I’ve been in the industry ever since. I joined Media 10 in 2007 and have loved every minute of it!

Ideal Home Show Interview

What were the problems you inherited with the show and how did you turn these around?

There were a host of problems – visitor numbers had dipped to150,000, the show was too long in duration, the exhibitors had fallen out of love with it and there was a general feeling that this was a tired exhibition that was on its last legs.
With only six months to turn things around, we worked hard to introduce a host of elements that had been missing in previous years including more celebrities, fresher advertising campaigns, more interactive features, a shorter show duration, more exhibitors and some real wow factors (including turfing the entire façade of Earls Court and building a marina in the show, complete with boats and a floating restaurant)!

What changes did you introduce for 2010 and were these successful?

We needed to get people excited by the event again. We split the show into sections and got celebrity ambassadors to front each of these sections – we chose the best in the business and they really believed in our vision. The advertising was targeted and widespread. It’s all very well spending tons of cash and not getting people to come because the message isn’t compelling. We spent less, got the messaging right and the success was beyond expectations. The most crucial thing though was building a marketing team that shared this vision and I’m extremely lucky to have found some exceptional colleagues.

Did you see an improvement in visitor numbers?

We reduced the number of days the show was open by eight yet increased the visitor numbers by 100,000. We had the highest level of pre-sold paid tickets in the show’s history and the first weekend saw a six-fold increase in visitor numbers year on year. We started with a bang and it never subsided. We ended up with over a quarter of a million visitors over the 17 days.

Ideal Home Show Interview

How successful was the show this year overall?

The show was a great success for Media 10. We had only six months to turn this around and we ended up with over 265,000 visitors, over 600 exhibitors and some jaw-dropping show content. I said to my MD that if we got over a quarter of a million visitors we would jump in the central marina at 6pm on the final day of the show. That water was colder than I imagined!

What made you decide to re-introduce the Ideal Home Show in Scotland?

We undertook research from visitors and exhibitors and the appetite to bring the show back to Scotland was enormous. The brand is bigger than we imagined and people love the show – we get very few visitors travelling from north of the Border so felt that if we could recreate the show in Scotland we would have similar success. The show did run in Glasgow until 2007 but – in a similar fashion to London – it was unloved and not the spectacle it deserves to be. Media 10 will ensure that the Scotland event (27th – 30th May 2011 at the SECC) will be as fantastic as the London event (11th – 27th March 2011 at Earls Court).

What can groups expect from the shows in 2011? Will there be any special deals?

The very nature of ‘group’ has changed from the works outing style of days gone by! Even though people are actually happy to be in a group, they want it to feel individual. This is why we are talking with key organisers, looking to package up a day at the Ideal Home Show, maybe even with evening theatre and overnight accommodation.
That’s at one level but for many organisers, it’s simply a question of easy coach access and parking, which I think we have solved, or at least gone some considerable way to solving.
We’ve also produced some DVDs that might help organisers who did not personally attend last year, so they can get a good idea of what their group will experience. As for deals – groups always get the best deals…some of which are almost too good to be true!